Strings Program Overview

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The PVA Strings Program is a place for violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists to grow as musicians and explore the rich world of string music. Central Memorial is proud to host one of the only credited high school strings programs within the CBE. At Central, students have an opportunity to participate in the strings program as a PVA music student, or as a standard music student.

The PVA Music Program is where students learn to be artists, exploring musical literacy and expression through unique programming that is not found elsewhere in the city. The program focuses on the development of the individual musician, providing our students with the abilities, confidence, and opportunities to go wherever their musical journey takes them, for life.

PVA String students have daily classes with Central’s string specialist, where they learn and reinforce advancing string specific techniques and musical development. This class includes all auditioned string students in Grades 10-12. PVA String students will find an environment of positive mentorship with like-minded and dedicated musicians. The PVA String class is timetabled at the same time as PVA Vocal and PVA Band classes to provide unique opportunities for students to collaborate on solo and chamber music performance, develop musical fluency literacy and creativity, and dive deep into their personal musical development.

PVA music students make meaningful connections with the musical community through interactions with real artists in their discipline. Students experience exciting residencies, guest artist visits, and scheduled private lessons on their instrument. PVA students will enjoy the benefits of partnerships with Mount Royal Conservatory, The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Calgary Opera, and other professional musical organizations in Calgary and beyond.


The Standard Strings Program is perfect for students looking to acquire the skills and attitudes they will need to find success in our performing ensembles throughout their high school career, as well as the skills necessary to bridge into the PVA music program. This is the place for our non-auditioned students, as well as for students that are hoping to successfully audition into the PVA Stings program in future years. Timetabled in the first semester each school year, Standard Strings will give students the opportunities and instruction to grow as musicians, and to experience a little of what makes music at Central Memorial unique and exciting. It requires at least one year of experience on a chosen instrument or voice, and is team-taught by all three of our music specialists. Please note that students with NO prior strings experience should complete the Beginner String Techniques class before registering for this course.

String Ensembles

PVA String Students will be automatically enrolled in Orchestra. Check out the Vocal and the Band pages for additional ensembles that students are able to join as secondary ensembles. All ensembles run outside the timetable as five or three credit classes.


In Orchestra, students will find a welcoming community of experienced string players where they will engage in large ensemble music making and experience public performances, festivals, and tours. String players will apply techniques learned in our PVA and Standard classes to explore the rich world of orchestral music. Orchestra meets outside the timetable two times a week, and expands to include players from the band and vocal program for full orchestral instrumentation at times throughout the school year.

Members of the Orchestra must have at least one year of experience on their instrument, and should be registered in either the PVA or Standard string classes. Students earn 5 high school credits per year for this course.

Beginner String Techniques and Beginner Orchestra

Our Beginner Strings program is open to all students at Central. Beginner String Techniques runs inside the timetable during Semester 1 as a 5 credit course. This class will take students from having no experience with strings to learning proper instrument technique, essential musical literacy, and how to perform with others.

Beginner Orchestra runs outside the timetable in Semester 2 twice a week, and extends the learning from Beginner String Techniques into orchestral performances with the goal of preparing students to bridge into our more advanced Orchestra the following year. Students in this ensemble need at least 6 months experience on their instrument. Beginner Orchestra students will earn 3 credits.

Instruments are provided for any string class for the standard CBE rental fee of $100 for the school year. Students who successfully complete this course can go on to register for our foundational PVA Bridging course and participate in Orchestra.

Strings/Orchestra FAQ

  • Are PVA music students required to take private lessons? It is strongly recommended that PVA music students study privately with a professional instructor. This experience will facilitate strong foundational skills necessary in developing independence and confidence. Students will have a short series of private lessons each semester as part of their course-work in both PVA Band and PVA Bridging, and it is encouraged to continue those lessons beyond the time provided to further develop your strengths..
  • What time commitment is required to be a PVA music student? Music students typically attend one to three morning or after school rehearsals per week. In addition, Jazz Ensembles and Vocal Jazz meet either before or after school two or three times per week and those programs are by audition only. Music students perform at several concerts and events and tour each year. Tours take place in the province, within Canada, or internationally.
  • When do PVA music students take Leadership in the Arts 35? All PVA Music 30 students are required to complete Leadership in the Arts 35 in order to receive the CBE Fine and Performing Arts Certificate. This course is delivered in conjunction with PVA classes throughout your high school career, so that you have a full portfolio of work to prepare you for a life rich with music beyond high school, whether you choose to pursue music at post-secondary or not. Students will interview professional musicians, attend workshops and performances, develop a list of performance repertoire, study privately, develop a personal portfolio, and complete a final exit interview. These courses are not scheduled into the timetable, but updates and teacher led content will occur throughout the courses.

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